Cruise Ship Passenger: “Cabin Filled With Water”

Santorini is a great cruise destination, known for its steep hill which lets hikers share a narrow road with sometimes unruly donkeys. The excitement reached a whole new level for passengers of the Sea Diamond cruise ship, though:

A Greek cruise ship that struck a volcanic reef and forced the evacuation of hundreds of tourists sank on Friday, 15 hours after it began taking on water off the coast of a Mediterranean island. A Frenchman and his daughter were missing, officials said. (MSNBC)

Passengers had to climb down rope ladders to exit the vessel, and were aided by Greek coast guard and military vessels, as well as fishing boats that make the scenic port their home. The rescue took three hours, and two passengers remain unaccounted for. The outlook for the missing passengers doesn’t sound optimistic:

Tourism Minister Fanny Palli Petralia said she had spoken with the missing passenger’s wife.

“The lady said her cabin filled with water when the ship struck rocks and that she narrowly escaped,” Petralia said. “She was not sure whether her husband and daughter made it out because things happened so suddenly … in a few seconds. Her other child was up on deck and was evacuated safely.”

“Cabin filled with water” is not a phrase you want to use when describing your cruise vacation, and the sinking of a sizable cruise ship is bound to put off some nervous cruisers. It will be interesting to see what the official investigation determines as the cause of the navigation error which caused the ship to hit the reef.

Cruise Ships Boost Alaska Park Traffic

A 5% increase in visitors to Alaska’s National Parks was driven almost completely by cruise ship traffic, according to Kurt at National Park Traveler.

Most of the cruise ship passenger volume was felt at three parks: Glacier Bay National Park, Sitka National Historical Park and Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. Once again, this shows the impact that cruise ships can have on cruise ports and land-based attractions.

Cruise Ships Boost Galveston

About a month ago I wrote a post about ports missing the boat.  Cities that could/should think about developing ports for cruise ships to depart from.  Interested mayors and city officials should take note of an article in The Daily News of Galveston County, written by Laura Elder.  Perhaps they’ll change their minds and give us cruisers more port options to choose from. 

GALVESTON — Five years ago, not a lot of island residents were praising the Port of Galveston.But on Wednesday, the tide had turned for the prospering deep-water port…

“The Port of Galveston is the lifeblood of this community,” Galveston Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas… In 2000, Carnival Cruise Lines’ ship Celebration began sailing from the island. Since then, the port — through public-private partnerships – has invested $46 million in cruise-ship terminals to become the top cruise port on the Gulf of Mexico. Last year, was a banner year for the port. For the first time since the late 1980s, when it began operating as a landlord port — meaning it generates revenues from leasing its facilities to other businesses — its operating income exceeded $20 million… 

Cruise lines, their passengers and crews spend about $934 million on direct purchases yearly. About 84 percent of that amount is generated by the port of Galveston, according to industry statistics. The industry supports 15,807 jobs in the state. Port businesses employ about 1,300 people along the waterfront.

This certainly sounds like a win-win situation for all involved, the city of Galveston, (not to mention the 15,807 extra jobs for the State of Texas), and for the Cruise Lines and passengers as well. 

Ports “Missing The Boat”?

Okay, how many possible cruise ship ports are “missing the boat”?   As recently reported by Johanna Jainchill in Travel Weekly

“New York City’s cruise industry is booming thanks to ongoing investments in our new and improved terminals, and it is important to do everything we can do to make sure that growth creates opportunities for New York City’s businesses,” said EDC President Robert Lieber. “Cruise lines spend an average of $700 million per year stocking their ships, and with an increasing number of ships sailing in and out of New York, we want to capture that business…

New York’s cruise terminals in Brooklyn and Manhattan currently serve 15 cruise lines and more than 1 million passengers annually, the EDC said, and economic impact studies published by the International Council of Cruise Lines show that the cruise industry spent a total of about $500 million in direct purchases, including food and beverage, in New York in 2005, the most recent data collected.

Granted, some of the goods may be bought in other states and trucked to the port cities, but the the economic impact on the port city is huge.  So is there any chance that cruise lines will add more ports in the US?  Think of the endless possibilities. 

A port in Georgia (Savannah), could supply the ship with an unlimited supply of peaches, peanuts and Coca Cola, which would be great because then the ship could have one of those restaurants that let you throw your peanut shells on the floor while you sip your Coke or Fuzzy Navel. An added attraction would be a visit to the Christmas party house we read about in Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil!

South Carolina (e.g., Charleston) could feature soybeans, shrimp, crabs, oysters, and more peaches and peanuts. Hummus and shrimp cocktail, yum! Added attractions, of course, could be Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head. 

You get the idea.  So let me know your ideas.